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Apparel Industry Acts to Combat Coronavirus Outbreak

As confirmed infections rise around the globe, companies across the fashion spectrum have joined in the fight to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s what some in the sector have done to help out:

Barco’s Nightingales Foundation

The foundation will donate 350,000 face masks to five California hospitals working to treat patients infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19), including UCLA hospitals and the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The organization was founded by an advisory board of professionals and volunteers and works to support the needs of the nursing profession.

New Balance

The New Balance Foundation will donate $2 million in the form of non-profit grants including Global Giving, No Kid Hungry, $50,000 in supplies to food banks in the U.S. and other organizations “with a focus on health, nutrition, education and physical activity.”

Update: New Balance has decided to convert production in its Lawrence, Mass. and Norridgewock, Maine facilities toward PPE and face masks as of April 2. The company will distribute these products to medical facilities in Massachusetts and Maine. By mid-April, New Balance expects to produce 100,000 units of a new face mask prototype developed with consultation from local medical and R&D organizations.

The company said it is also developing new prototype products including gowns and foot coverings and will look to use its U.S. 3D-printing manufacturing facility to optimize production.


One of the biggest names in Nylon is throwing their expertise into the struggle to maintain PPE supply chains amid the outbreak and surging demand. Nilit has pledged to focus its products on medical protective equipment while simultaneously following local country regulations to protect its workers.

Nilit’s Nylon 6.6 product is an excellent material for PPE and strong, lightweight and compact constructions, the company said.

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In St. Charles, Ill., Cleanbeam is using its ultraviolet cleaning technology to sanitize footwear in sensitive locations such as hospitals and food processing facilities. However, Cleanbeam president Mark Cottone believes the technology to be effective in cleaning medical masks as well. Typically face masks are unable to be used more than once due to sanitation concerns but Cottone is lobbying for FDA approval to use Cleanbeam technology in order to sanitize masks for reuse.


Beginning April 6, Carhartt will begin production on 50,000 medical gowns, the company said in a press release. It will also deliver 2.5 million masks for the essential workers currently facing high rates of infection. Carhartt has implemented temporary rotating paid work schedules to encourage social distancing and said manufacturing facility workers have volunteered to make these items, with the company agreeing to provide compensation for their “important contribution.”

Ministry of Supply

The Boston-based apparel brand said it is taking a different approach to producing face masks to assist with PPE shortages, creating a new mask design that fits its available manufacturing capacity. The brand is now manufacturing its masks with 3D knitting technology to create a design that is knit, reusable, washable and equipped with a HEPA filter.

Ministry of Supply is making its first donation of masks to the Boston Medical Center this week.

Capri Holdings

The luxury brand group has committed more than $3 million to the cause of halting the effects of COVID-19. Michael Kors will donate $1 million to local relief efforts in New York City and brand founders Micheal Kors and John Idol will add another $1 million to help fund food programs, provide financial relief to small fashion businesses and support for the two of the city’s largest hospitals.

Versace is donating $500,000 to local medical organizations in Milan to follow up a donation to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation. Jimmy Choo is contributing $500,000 to the National Health Service in England as well as the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.


Quality control and compliance solution provider, Qima, is offering its inspection services to companies shipping face masks and PPE out of China free of charge. Qima said it will perform pre-shipment inspections of workmanship, packaging, labeling and quantity assessment to brands struggling to manage the surge in manufacturing of vital medical gear.

Kepner Scott Shoe Company

The 132-year-old shoe company based in Orwigsburg, Pa. was forced to close down on March 19 when all non-essential businesses were ordered to shut down. Shortly after, however, Kepner Scott was allowed to reopen production as an essential business due to its production of orthopedic footwear.

While Kepner Scott can only have 8 employees working at its factory simultaneously, it has since begun producing face masks and donating them to the local community.

Universal Standard

The size-inclusive women’s brand is giving away free pieces from its Foundation collection. Medical professionals who inquire through a dedicated email address can pick from one of the collection’s soft layering essentials including bodysuits, tanks and tees that can be worn under scrubs.


Burberry is among the fashion icons reworking production to make critically needed goods. On March 28, the company said it’s retooling its Yorkshire, England trenchcoat factory to produce non-surgical masks and gowns. The British luxury brand said it will use its global supply chain to provide more than 100,00 surgical masks to the U.K. National Health Service alone.

What’s more, Burberry said it will help fund research into a single-dose vaccine for COVID-19 at the University of Oxford and donate to FareShare and The Felix Project, two charities dedicated to addressing food poverty in the U.K.

Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design

Fashion design students, faculty and staff at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design (RMCAD) are sewing their fabrics into face masks in collaboration with the Athena Project, a non-profit based in Denver dedicated to supporting women in the arts. Communicating virtually, the two groups will donate the face masks to be used by medical professionals as a last resort if PPE supplies fail.

Their plan is to deliver masks in bundles of 10 in order to allow easy changes throughout a shift as medical-grade face masks must be sanitized every four to six hours, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


A $100,000 donation to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response fund will accompany a total of $1 million in relief funds donated by the PVH Foundation. PVH will also ship 2 million units of PPE including isolation gowns, masks and face shields to the Montefiore Health System in New York.


Parent to the Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman brands, Tapestry is matching donations made by employees to qualified COVID-19 causes, up to $10,000. The Coach Foundation will also make a donation to an organization chosen by employees and, along with the Kate Spade New York Foundation, will pursue partnerships in both the private and public sectors to assist the vulnerable.

The company is also donating 15,000 face masks in Spain, the U.K. and the U.S., with more coming in April.

Ralph Lauren

The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation committed $10 million to provide financial grants through its Emergency Assistance Foundation to help employees with medical, eldercare and childcare costs. The company will also donate to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Beyond this, the firm will also continue to build out its Pink Pony Fund, which assists international cancer institutions and will grant an inaugural gift to the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) / Vogue Fashion Fund to support the fashion community.


The owner of Louis Vuitton and Dior converted three factories dedicated to making perfume for its Christian Dior, Givenchy and Guerlain brands to produce hand sanitizer instead. The luxury conglomerate made its first delivery by March 16 and set a production goal of 12 tons of hydroalcoholic gel in the first week. The supplies will be donated to French authorities and the largest hospital system in Europe.


Prada worked with officials in Tuscany to obtain the raw materials necessary to produce 110,000 face masks made from nonwoven fabric and 80,000 medical overalls at its factory in Perugia, Italy.


Parkdale Inc., a yarn spinner from Gastonia, N.C., spearheads a coalition of brands including Hanesbrands, American Giant, Fruit of the Loom, Los Angeles Apparel, AST Sportswear, Sanmar, Beverly Knits, Reigel Linen and America Knits to produce face masks. The coalition made its first deliveries in late March.

Christian Siriano

Appearing on the “Good Morning America” morning talk show, Christian Siriano pledged to answer New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s call to shift manufacturing from apparel to personal protective equipment (PPE) and face masks.

“We have made almost 1,000 in the last three days which is amazing,” Siriano told Good Morning America on March 25. “We actually got approved from the governor to work so our studio is somewhat up-and-running.”

Cynthia Rowley

On March 23, designer Cynthia Rowley shared with her Instagram followers a face mask sewing pattern that requires no trim and said her team will continue to make masks until they run out of supplies.


Faculty and students from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) have been actively engaged in making face masks for medical professionals. Kathlin Argiro, FIT professor and founder of women’s wear brand Altress, converted the label’s on-demand supply chain into a mask-production facility.

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani personally donated 2 million euros ($2.21 million) to local hospitals in Bergamo and Piacenza in Italy, including 1.25 million euros ($1.38 million) given to Italy’s Civil Protection fund and other medical institutions. The Armani Group has converted all four Italian production facilities to manufacture PPE, as well.

Brandon Maxwell

Luxury ready-to-wear women’s wear designer Brandon Maxwell, who has dressed celebrities including Lady Gaga and Michelle Obama, said his namesake label has shifted production toward PPE, including gowns for medical workers.


Despite controversy regarding its decision to lay off employees during the crisis—who were in the midst of organizing into a union—Everlane supported pandemic control efforts by launching the 100 Percent Human collection, donating all of the effort’s profits to Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund.


In a Twitter post on March 24, Gap said it had asked its factory partners to pivot to making PPE for first responders and medical workers fighting on the front lines.

“Our teams are connecting some of the largest hospital networks in Calif. with our vendors to deliver PPE supplies,” Gap said.


Zara-owner Inditex has pledged to donate face masks and look into converting apparel production facilities to produce PPE for coronavirus patients and hospitals in its native country of Spain.

Chargeurs and Noble Biomaterials

Chargeurs PCC Fashion Technologies and Noble Biomaterials are collaborating to produce PPE for medical professionals. Noble Biomaterials will use its silver-based technologies to help Chargeurs convert production.


The trim supplier and zipper maker partnered with customers and government contractors to being production on supplies for medical workers at its facilities in Alabama, California, Georgia and Kentucky. YKK USA will supply products like airtight, watertight and moisture-repellent zippers for hazmat suits and isolation chambers.

A subsidiary of the company, Tape Craft Corporation, also provided Ford Motor Company with 85,000 elastic straps to assist in the production of face masks.


With the support of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Reformation has committed to monitoring the production of five million non-medical masks for essential workers as a part of a new initiative called LA Protects.


Another Los Angeles brand, Sanctuary will produce five million N95 medical-grade face masks for hospitals in the U.S. The company will also support the Los Angeles Police Department, authorities in Kentucky, Louisiana and Texas with more partnerships to come. A non-medical mask, the Essential Lifestyle mask, is also available to consumers.

Fast Retailing

Uniqlo-owner Fast Retailing will manufacture and donate 10 million medical-grade masks for medical organizations and hospitals, with more than one million masks pledged for delivery in early April to be distributed by the New York State government. Fast Retailing will also supply one million masks to the Milan City Government and Japanese medical institutions.

Gerber Technology

More than 300 of Gerber’s customers joined the software company in launching a PPE task force on March 23. The group will work to transition production to protective equipment as shortfalls threaten to increase infection rates among medical staff.

Under Armour

The American sports apparel brand will produce 500,000 face masks, 1,000 face shields and thousands of hospital gowns at its Baltimore manufacturing facility, donating them to the nearby University of Maryland Medical System and other organizations in the state in need of PPE. Workers are also filling 50,000 fanny packs filled with necessities to deliver to medical professionals.